Boston Scientific Expands Esophageal Stent Access in Africa

Oct 18, 2019

In recent years, increased attention has been focused on the high rates of esophageal cancer (EC) in developing countries. In East Africa, for example, 23,000 new cases of EC and 21,000 deaths from EC are projected to affect the East African region in 2020.1

Many people diagnosed with EC have difficulty swallowing and often struggle to get the nutrients they need.  To make it easier for patients to swallow, self-expanding metal stents are often used as a palliative option for EC patients who develop obstruction. In East Africa, 80 percent of EC patients will need a stent, yet few receive them, largely due to a lack of quality, affordable stents available in the region, as well as limited human resources to conduct the procedures. 

In 2018, physicians and researchers from the African Esophageal Cancer Consortium (AfrECC, part of the National Cancer Institute), the American Cancer Society and the Clinton Health Access Initiative asked Boston Scientific to help by providing its esophageal stents to the region to help patients in desperate need.

Boston Scientific partnered with AfrECC to provide discounted stents, along with training resources for local doctors on stenting procedures. In November 2018, two Boston Scientific employees traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to help train five physicians and support seventeen cases.

“When you walk into the hospitals in this region and you see how sick the patients are and know that very few of them will go to surgery, you want to do everything possible to reduce their suffering,” said Troy Lengel, Director of Product Management, Endoscopy. “By working with AfrECC, we’re now able to supply stents to select hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania.  We plan to expand access into Malawi and Zambia.  I’ve seen how this can make a positive impact for patients during the first round of trainings, and our goal is to build on this success so that stenting becomes a regular part of the treatment plan in this region.”

  1. Ferlay J GLOBOCAN 2012 v 1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. 2013.